U.S. teenager Mikaela Shiffrin wins 1st World Cup slalom
Canada's Erin Mielzynski places 5th under floodlights in Are, Sweden
American teenager Mikaela Shiffrin captured her first World Cup victory on Thursday, putting down a perfect second run to win a night slalom ahead of home favourite Frida Hansdotter.
Under the floodlights on Are's Olympia course in Sweden, the 17-year-old Shiffrin finished with a combined time of one minute 45.36 seconds.
"This is huge," Shiffrin said. "I think the best part besides the skiing was the ceremony. It made me cry a little bit when I heard the American anthem."
Shiffrin was second after the first run and was given quite a challenge by overall World Cup leader Tina Maze, who had a blazing second run to take a large lead just before the American was to ski.
But Shiffrin kept her composure in a run that was even faster, setting a time that first-run leader Hansdotter couldn't match.
Hansdotter was still ahead of the American at the first two intermediate times but wasn't as fast in the final section and finished 0.29 seconds behind for second place. Maze was third, 0.52 behind.
Canada's Erin Mielzynski placed fifth, the Guelph, Ont., native's second top-10 World Cup result.
The 22-year-old punched the air in delight after crossing the finish line following her second strong run.
"Fifth is great but when there's one or two of us on the podium that will be even better," said Mielzynski, who became the first Canadian since 1971 to win a World Cup slalom race when she struck gold in Ofterschwang, Germany last season.
'Solid, balanced' run
Mielzynski produced the fifth-fastest first run of the day.
"My first run felt good right out of the start," she said. "It just felt solid and balanced and that's kind of the feeling I crave whenever I step into a pair of skis."
Brittany Phelan of Mont-Tremblant, Que., was 22nd, her third consecutive top-30 result.
Shiffrin became the youngest women's World Cup winner since Lara Gut of Switzerland won a super-G in St. Moritz in 2008, also at 17. The U.S. Ski Team said she's the second youngest American woman to win a World Cup race behind Judy Nagel, who was three months younger when she won a slalom in Lienz, Austria, in 1969.
"I don't really like the success," she said. "I like to sleep at night and I like to hang around the hotel room with my mom. I'm afraid there might be a little hype with this. But I'll take it. This is what I love to do."
Shiffrin now leads the World Cup slalom standings ahead of Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany, who was 11th Thursday. The American has 196 points, 22 points more than Hoefl-Riesch.
But the teenager said she's not focusing on the Cup standings just yet.
"My only focus is just to ski my best every day. I'll be happy with a world championship medal or a 15th place, as long as I'm skiing my best," she said.
Lindsey Vonn skipped the race, having taken a break from the World Cup to fully recover from an intestinal illness.
With files from CBCSports.ca